All posts by admin

Baratza Supports Street Bean – Guest Blog

Baratza recently donated grinders to Street Bean to support the important work they are doing – getting youth off the streets and giving them real skills, and an opportunity to improve their lives. Ben Blake, a long time Baratza friend and supporter, manages the Street Bean Cafe and we asked him to share about their program.

streetbean-banner
by Ben Blake, Cafe Manager, Street Bean Espresso, Seattle WA

Before I start, I’d like to thank the folks at Baratza for their kindness. They’ve been helpful and extremely supportive over the last few years. Over the summer, they donated a set of Forte grinders to our cafe that have drastically improved the quality of our pourover bar, increased training opportunities, and allowed us to bring on a guest roaster as espresso.

When I first took over the Cafe Manager position at Street Bean, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. While the idea of combining my love for coffee with something meaningful was always appealing to me, I could never quite grasp what that would actually look like. I knew I’d be working for a non-profit in Seattle that dealt mainly with homeless and at-risk youth, and I knew we’d be serving coffee, but that’s about it. Through the first couple months here, I’ve seen just how important coffee can be in someone’s life, and just how meaningful it really is.

Let me explain a little bit.

We’re a non-profit that provides opportunities for street kids and at-risk youth to get on their feet, learn valuable career skills, and obtain a self-efficacy that doesn’t stop in the workplace.

We operate under the umbrella of New Horizons—a fantastic organization that provides all the resources for these kids. Food, clothes, shelter, case workers, counseling, coaching, community, etc. etc. Through the New Horizons Program they’re able to apply for internships in order to gain work experience and learn just what it means to have a job and be “employable.” Ultimately, Street Bean was created to compliment the New Horizons program and to provide a supportive employment component for the youth that were being served. We currently operate two “apprenticeship” slots where we not only train folks to become great baristas, but to help them move them beyond homelessness and abandonment into confidence, security, and successful future employment.

After successfully completing the apprenticeship, we have the opportunity to hire them on as a barista at Street Bean.

Over the last five years, we’ve seen an incredible success rate, and as of right now, we have four full-time baristas who are living on their own, completely off the streets.

I guess that all sounds nice, and it’s great to be able to say all of that, but even within the first month here, I’ve seen what that actually means. These “kids” have been completely transformed because of Street Bean. They’re grown men and women that have not only escaped life on the streets, but that have completely taken hold of their own lives through the medium of a cafe.

A conversation I had with our newest apprentice said it best. As I was chatting with him about his weekend, and about some upcoming challenges in his life, he stopped and looked at me with a big grin on his face.

“I love this place, man. I feel like it’s mine.”

That statement alone brought to life exactly what I was involved in, and it had nothing to do with homelessness, street life, or life problems. It transcends all of that. The community of a coffee shop is unique. It’s hard not to be engulfed by it. When you work behind the bar at a cafe, it’s your space. You want people to enjoy being there, so you put your best foot forward, and no matter what your past looks like, you take ownership of it.

Ownership is important for all of us. It gives us something to hold onto and something to call our own. Street Bean is actively doing that—not only for the youth in our program and the ones that have made it through—but for me, too.

Beyond having a good cause, though, we really strive to be a great cafe, and we’re only really able to do that through outside support. There’s no way we could offer up quality products without quality equipment, and as a non-profit that can be difficult at times.

When companies like Baratza partner with us, they’re not just giving a donation or a discount to a non-profit. They’re giving people the opportunity to get back on their feet through the coffee industry, to take hold of something and to own it, and to truly discover their identities.

It’s an amazing thing really, and we’re thrilled to be surrounded and supported by such amazing people. People who are willing to help us make Street Bean one of the best cafes in Seattle while also supporting our vision of empowering youth to get off the streets and onto a path that ends with a successful future. The coffee community is the perfect place for someone to turn their life around, and we’re really thankful for all of you.

Foreign Exchange Tech – Martin Fu

martin working[1]

We’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Martin Fu to our Bellevue HQ this summer! Martin is the son of Leo Fu, the owner of our partner company PSI, in Taiwan, that is responsible for the manufacture and assembly of our grinders. Martin attends college in Tai Pei and on breaks, he goes back to Tai Chung to work for PSI as an assembler. Martin has been a great asset to Baratza this summer, already knowing all facets of assembly of our grinders. This time he got to see them AFTER they’ve been well used and was able to repair and refurbish them!

The team at HQ have treated him to fantastic coffee and food and in his downtime he’s learned something else new…. how to skateboard! He says “You will get yourself killed in Tai Pei because there are too many cars. There is so much room and clear spaces for a freshman of skateboarding to learn here.”

Before heading back to Taiwan, Martin took a trip to the Bay Area and caught up with local and visiting Baratza team members, pictured here with Pierce Jens from our Support Team and Kyra Kennedy, Baratza Co-owner.

IMG_8974

Release of Vario 886

Big News – Effective 8/14/14, The Vario now comes standard with the Metal PortaHolder!

vario886-banner

When we launched the Forté-AP with the Metal PortaHolder we got a lot of interest and requests to change out the Vario plastic PortaHolder with the heavy-duty metal PortaHolder. The Vario body needed some minor changes for a perfect fit of the metal PortaHolder. We’re excited to say that all the modifications have been made and going forward all Vario Grinders will be shipped with a Metal PortaHolder. The Model number has changed from 885 to 886 and the MAP price has increased from $449 to $479.

Vario 886 upgrade kit
We have also developed an upgrade kit (PN 6405), to allow current owners to upgrade the 885. Below is a picture of the parts you need for a total conversion. Retail price for the kit is $55. We’ve developed a video of how to perform this upgrade.
Vario 886 Upgrade kit

If a Vario owner does not want to purchase the upgrade kit, they can just buy the PortaHolder. Please be aware, it is a very tight fit and will scratch up the belt casing (metal plate that the PortaHolder sits on.)

Colin Francois – Field Report from Barista Camp

June 13, 2014

Q & A With Colin Francois, Barista Camp Back From the Field- Report

Interviewed by Sarah Dooley

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Baratza is as serious about great home and light commercial grinders as we are about employee development. In the past year, we’ve sent two team members to the Barista Guild of America’s Barista Camp for Level 1 Certification. We believe in education experiences like these, combining top-notch curriculum with hands on activities. Recently our team member, Colin Francois joined 100 plus coffee people in Fontana, Wisconsin, population 1,625, for some good old fashion barista glamping. (Glamorous camping if you didn’t catch that one.)

SD: What is your role at Baratza?

CF: Baratza Sales Support

SD: Describe your day-to-day activities:

CF: I typically get to work just before my shift starts and make coffee for the office. One Chemex, two espresso’s and a cappuccino will usually do the trick for all of us. Then I get right to phone support, process sales and support emails while fighting off the slumber gnomes with more coffee. It’s actually pretty interesting, my conversations are never dull and we always seem to have a solution.

SD: Are you a member of the Barista Guild of America?

CF: Yes, most valuable membership I have to date!

SD: What inspired you to go to Barista Camp?

CF: Sarah Dooley (my co-worker) said it would be a great full circle experience of engaging activities, learning and relationship building.

SD: What’s your favorite beverage coffee and beyond?

CF: Chemex for coffee and an Old Fashioned

SD: What delighted you the most about the week?

CF: Laila Ghambari’s competition routine at camp was incredible! The second she mentioned concord grape, the fragrance filled the room… it gave me goosebumps.

SD: What was the worst part about camp?

CF: Breakfast was terrible. While I was thankful, I’m not a big fan “tub-o-eggs” and hash-browns. A large plate of fruit and a pile of bacon it was for me!

SD: Was there something you learned that will really help you with your career path in coffee?

CF: The Introduction to Cupping courses were a experiences for me. Tasting with the flavor wheel and using the unified language surrounding coffee made a lot of sense and I’ve immediately put it to use.

SD: Boxers or Briefs?

CF: Briefs

Wilbur Curtis' Seraphim Brewer

Wilbur Curtis’ Seraphim Brewer


SD: Besides Baratza’s newest grinder for light commercial use, the Forté Series, did you notice something particularly awesome in the world of equipment, ie: any new innovations or clever bar tools?

CF: The Seraphim by Curtis had a really cool look and the coffees prepared with this water delivery system were quite tasty.

SD: How many pull-ups can you do?

CF: Ha, 15

SD: What were your actual achievements from your time at camp?

CF: Hmmm….

  • Level 1 Certification
  • 2nd Place in the Camp 5K, I won a pretty cool Hario Ice Dripper just in time for Summer
  • Most importantly, I also feel like I am definitely more comfortable helping our customers troubleshoot brewing issues. Barista Camp reinforces the things you do know and opens your eyes to a lot of variables and processes that really just make you better.

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee


SD: Did you make a potential new email pen pal?

CF: At camp you get assigned to a camp team. On the first evening we broke into our groups, assigned a team leader, made a team poster and created a team name, in our case “Super Fines”. Interestingly enough, as we sat down in our groups, the subject of roommates came up. Had we met our roommates yet etc. It just so happened I hadn’t really met my roommate but I did come to see him up on the stage welcoming all of us to camp and sharing the festivities ahead. So while I hadn’t physically met my roomie, Lorenzo Perkins was there meeting and greeting all of us.

SD: Would you recommend barista camp to your peers in coffee? Why?

CF: Absolutely yes! Overall it was a really great learning experience. The coffee industry consists of people from a lot of different walks in life. It was fun to share and listen.

SD: If I was going to Barista Camp tomorrow, what should I bring?

CF: Take snacks to class for sure! Some of the sessions run upwards of 3 hours …oh and bring enough to share with at least one other person too.

Rimini Italy – World Coffee Event 2014

Baratza is not attending the World Coffee Event in Rimini, but we are delighted to know some of the special people who are using our grinders at the event! We hope it will be a super successful one for them!

Todd Goldsworthy competing in World Brewers Cup Championship - Rimini 2014. Photo via LosAngelesTNT

Todd Goldsworthy competing in World Brewers Cup Championship – Rimini 2014. Photo via LosAngelesTNT

Thanks to support from our UK distributor, CoffeeHit, US Brewers Cup Champion – Todd Goldsworthy is grinding with a Forté!  CoffeeHit were able to get a 220v Forté to Todd and he’d brought his burr set with him from the US.  Todd is the Coffee Guru and educator with Klatch Coffee in Upland, CA. For his competition presentation, he pre-ground his coffee. Catch his excellent presentation here.  Amazing effort and work went to getting all the components together for his presentation and a large measure of water science too!

Despite issues with Italian customs, we got Fortes to our new Norwegian distributor KAFFAButikk as the show opened this morning – phew! They are at the KAFFA/Collaborative Coffee Source booth in The Village, doing lots of cupping and brewing! “The Village is a show within the show, consisting of small roofed market tables showcasing high quality professional products and services”, says World Coffee Events.

FortéBGs are paired again with Curtis’ cool new under counter brewer, the Seraphim on Cafe Imports booth in The Village. The Seraphim was the 2014 Best New Product winner at SCAA!

Seraphim with FortéBG at SCAA2014

For all the details on the event World of Coffee – Rimini, happening June 10-12, check here

 

Baratza at SCAA 2014 – BOOTH 10041

Baratza at SCAA 2014 – BOOTH 10041

We are in the final countdown to The Event of #SCAA2014. We’ll be in our hometown of Seattle for this 26th Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo – Score! It’s going to be a hugely exciting few days of connecting with our customers and the specialty coffee community – in our booth, at parties, at competitions, in classes and all over town! It feels like we will be everywhere this year! To give you some tips on where you can find us and our grinders, we’ve gathered what we know, so far! Be sure to stop by the booth to say hello! See you soon!

BlNgMoACUAAhqOL.png
Where we’ll be:

All day, every day – Booth 10041 – Kyra Kennedy and Kyle Anderson, Baratza co-owners will be in the booth, as well as Joyce Klassen (Marketing) and Sarah Dooley (Education), plus a rotation of Colin Francois, Pierce Jens and Greg Girton from our support team! Come and check out our complete line up of our grinders – home and commercial.

In our own booth we’ll have the ‘Forté Tasters Choice’ a daily espresso tasting opportunity by Sarah Dooley featuring the Forté BG and AP. In the last few months we’ve been doing a lot if internal testing with the BG for espresso and we have to say – we LIKE it! Flavors are coming out really sweet and clean. Sarah Dooley is scheduled to do daily tastings (1-2 pm) using the LaMarzocco GS/3. Come taste and see which you prefer!

We will also have Bill Crossland with the brand new Crossland Brewer (hush hush!) on booth doing demos. Don’t miss seeing this! .

BrewBar in our booth – come taste great coffee from a rotation of wonderful roasters, including Ladro, Slate, Stumptown and Chromatic.

Skybridge Café – We’re partnering again this year with our friends from LaMarzocco, Kalita USA, Marco, and Prima to provide espresso and coffee service. A select group of roasters will be delighting you with delicious coffees throughout the day. The café will have a focus on the home brew experience with La Marzocco planning to offer a hands-on experience on their GS/3s on one side of the cafe, while coffee is prepared and served on the other. We will have a couple of Forté BGs on the Brew Bar and a Forté AP with a GS/3, if you’d like to try it out there!

Slate Coffee Roasters – Guest Café – at Expo entrance
Slate Coffee, winners of the 2013 America’s Best Coffee House have been invited by SCAA to host the Guest Café, at the entrance to the show. The Slate team will be sharing their coffees and will have Virtuoso/Esatto combos plus Forté–BG’s on bar, so you can see how the grinders work in a busy bar setting!

In addition, you can see Forte grinders in the booths of:
• Curtis booth (right opposite our booth!)
• La Marzocco
• Café Imports
• Blossom, at the UNIC booth

Sponsorships:
• National Barista, Brewers Cup and Cup Tasters Competitions
• Thursday night, after the Opening Ceremonies – The NWTNT series has organized another brilliant event – yes there will be a grinder to be won!
• US National Aeropress Championship, happening on Friday at the Stumptown Roastery
• Java Jog – Saturday morning to support Women in the Congo

Fun Events
• Thursday – we co-host the ‘Made in Seattle’ party at Von Trapp. Come one, come all!
• Friday – join us on the Java Jog for a Cause, the monies raised will go to support women’s coffee groups in Eastern Congo, South Lake Kivu region. We may not be actually jogging – but walking yes! Join us for chat and connection.
• Saturday – we co-host a party at Kuma Coffee’s Roastery

Social
Need help finding all the booths and events? Download the SCAA App or follow Joyce on Twitter @bartazatalk

See you next week!!

Forté-BG on Bar at TED2014

Only 3 days left before TED2014 kicks off! This year Canada is the location and “World Coffee Events (WCE) has partnered with TED, to design and execute a coffee and tea program for TED2014 in Vancouver and TEDActive in Whistler”. The program is focused on Specialty Coffee, enriching the attendee experience and a offering a time of coffee discovery for many!

Peter Guiliano, Director of SCAA’s Symposium says about TEDCoffee “we are once again planning a paradigm-busting coffee service for the conference. Extraordinary representatives of the Barista Guild will craft coffees at a network of coffee bars, featuring special coffees from Canada and other exciting coffees from around the world. We continue to be committed to collaboration, exploration, and excellence, and to spreading the word of specialty coffee among the unique TED audience.”
Laila at TED using Vario-W
This is Baratza’s third year of partnership with the coffee program, through providing grinders for the brew bars. For the last couple of years the Vario-W was on bar and this year we’re thrilled to be able to offer the Forté-BG (Brew Grinder) commercial weight-based grinders to be the workhorses for the event. We’re confident they’ll provide accurate, consistent grinding for the huge volume of delicious coffee that will be brewed!

Sharing their coffee knowledge and expertise, as well as putting 12 Forté-BG’s through their paces this week, will be an awesome team of baristas, from Canada and the US. Not only can they make great coffee but they also have in-depth coffee knowledge and a deep commitment to providing exemplary customer service.

Sarah Dooley, our Education and Quality Manager, worked TED for the last two years and was the team lead for TED Active in San Diego. When we talked about her experience there, she said “attendees craved one-on-one conversations, asking where the coffee was from, who was the farmer/roaster, and barista’s favorite coffee? Having the Baratza Vario-W’s with the ability to grind by weight allowed us to interact over the beverage rather than focusing on building the beverage. In the early TED conferences we had to pre-weigh everything, and we couldn’t keep up, weighing into anything we could get our hands on! The Vario-W made a big difference for us Baristas. The grinders made it super easy to dial in a new coffee, for accurate and consistent grinding, allowing more time to interact about the coffee and further that experience with our guests at the counter. We didn’t have to focus on the equipment. TED is so inspirational for all the baristas. Brewing side by side with peers, or with people that you know through social media, while presenting amazing coffees, confirmed that we were very much a part of the TED experience.”

We wish all the baristas and WCE organizers a very successful week, and thank them in advance for volunteering their time and for creating this enriching coffee experience for the TED Attendees.

Other sources for info on the event:

Static in your grinding – it’s complex!

By Kyle Anderson, Baratza Co-Owner and Engineer

Static: the grossly misunderstood and (still, to this day) hotly debated phenomenon that plagues many facets of our lives but can REALLY (randomly) irritate those of us who grind our coffee beans daily.

As recently as mid 2011 there were breakthrough findings about the root cause of “static charges” that shatter the commonly held paradigms of what causes static. About the only remaining principle that survives from the old paradigm is that friction is a key ingredient in creating an imbalance of electrical charges, which shows it’s ugly face as “static”. The grinding of coffee in a burr grinder unavoidably includes a lot of friction – friction between the beans and their resultant particles, as well as between the coffee and grinder materials. In the presence of friction, dissimilar materials and non-uniform-shaped particles, the possibility of static rearing its ugly head, is ripe. Add to this, low humidity (Midwest in winter or Phoenix in the summer), varying degrees of moisture in the roasted beans, flooring and countertop materials and (yes) even the clothing and shoes of the grinder operator, and we have more variables than we can control.

At Baratza we sought out the advice and wisdom from people who spent 30+ years working with (or against!) static electricity issues. We’ve discussed and tested all-metal grinding chambers, grounding of the actual coffee powder, grounding of the coffee bin, and on and on – more crazy ideas than you’d care to know. We have also confided in most of the world’s commercial coffee grinder manufacturers and they all have expressed the same frustration with the randomness with which static shows up. Not one grinder manufacturer has found the panacea to eliminate this messy headache. Though the experts may not agree on all the contributing factors that cause static, there is agreement that the best way to manage the static is through Electrically Dissipative Materials. At Baratza, we use IDP (Inherently Dissipative Properties) plastics for transport and receiving our ground coffee powder. These dissipative materials “bleed off” any charge, in a much better way than conductive materials (i.e. Metals). IDP plastics cost 4X what standard plastics do, but we feel it is money well spent. Unfortunately, the coffee grinder gets blamed for causing the static mess that people encounter (because the whole beans showed no signs of static), but the same grinder, in the same room, at the same time, with different beans can show no signs of static, so is the fault that of the beans? There are myriad work-arounds shared by many to minimize or eliminate this messy problem. Probably the most universally effective is to momentarily increase the humidity of the whole beans just prior to grinding (this is fancy talk for spray a LITTLE water mist or droplets on them). Obviously, this only works if you have a small quantity of beans in your hopper, else the beans on the bottom get no water.

In summary, grinding coffee beans is an activity that occurs in a system made up of numerous uncontrolled variables (varietal of bean, degree of roast, freshness, humidity, temperature, etc). With the best grinder technology and some variables in your favor, you will have minimal to no static issues. If a few too many of these variables stack up against you, then you are bound to see a static-ee mess, to some degree. When you encounter static, we encourage you to wait 15-30 seconds after the grind has completed to allow the charge to bleed away, then tap the side of the bin and all the grounds should fall into the bin.

Good luck!

Preciso Burr  sm (640x428)

GB 2.0 Upgrade Kit & Video Tutorial Guide

February 27, 2014

Baratza is always striving to improve, from the time we manufactured our first grinder, to right now. The stripped drive gear issue is generally caused by a rock fragment or unroasted bean getting caught between the burrs, causing the motor shaft to chew a few teeth off of the drive gear. The GB2.0, introduced into our new grinders in 2012, prevents this mechanical issue from occurring. With the GB2.0, if a hard object is to get between the burrs, the thermal overload fuse will cut power to the motor until the jam is cleared.

GB2.0 installation requires full disassembly of the gearbox, so we decided to make a thorough video to encourage users to do the repair process at home.

By design, Baratza has created a grinder that can be easily serviced either by our customer or our technicians via the Grinder Repair Program.  We strive to make all parts available for our machines, along with installation instructions.  This allows our users to keep even our earliest model grinders in operation rather than discarding and replacing them, reaffirming our long standing goal of keeping grinders on counter tops, and out of landfills.

If you run into any specific questions/concerns during your repair process, drop me a line at support@baratza.com- I am happy to help troubleshoot!

Watch the video HERE

Cheers,

Pierce Jens

GrindZ

Rice, It’s Just Not a Good Idea (for cleaning!).

February 17, 2014

For many of us, cleaning the grinder is a monthly if not weekly routine.  That’s all good; please don’t ever change that very important routine.  Instead be mindful of a few details regarding the process so as not to permanently damage your grinder.

Using rice to clean your grinder is not a good idea.  Our experience repairing Baratza grinders has shown that using rice or other natural materials to clean a Baratza grinder can cause mechanical damage to your grinder.  This damage would not be covered under our warranty.

Grindz is a product, from Urnex, that was designed to clean grinders and has been tested to ensure it will not harm your grinder and is safe for use.  Grindz is flavor neutral, composed of food grade products, and does a great job eliminating stale oils, flavors, and residue from the burrs and grinding chamber.  Make sure you follow the factory instructions on the amount of product to use while cleaning your grinder.  For home use that is just around 40 grams of grindz tabs.

We recommend setting your conical (Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso) grinder around the setting of #20 and setting the flat burr grinders (Vario and Forte) at a setting of #5.  That’s just around the middle of your grind range allowing for a solid cleaning as the pellets are ground to powder.  At finer settings we have seen clogging occur and possible mechanical damage.

Follow your cleaning cycle with 30-40 gram coffee bean to purge any cleaner left in the grinder.

Thank you for caring for your Baratza grinder.  We wish you many tasty cups of coffee!